Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tales from the Salt Mines

Spent a good part of today, yesterday, and the day before involved in my brother's divorce.

Trying to help smooth the waters, facilitate communications, etc.

What an incredibly bad idea. What was I THINKING??????

I feel bad for the kids though. And I feel somewhat cowardly for stepping in, realizing that it was all just too nasty, and then stepping out again. Feel as if I'm abandoning all those frogs in the gooey black mud while I go home to take a refreshing shower.

Ah well, Shower, Shave, and a Gin and Bitters. Feel so much better now.

In other news:

Hey, all you pirate fans. Not only is, gasp, quiver, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead man's Chest coming out July 6, but I just heard through Netflix that THE BLACK SWAN is coming out on DVD July 11! Yay! Yippee! Woo Hoo!

Really must go find an extravagant hat, and eyepatch, and perhaps a stuffed parrot to lug around for the next few days to lift my spirits. Feel as if I'm currently pining for the Fjords....Now then, where did I put that drink?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Megan's Questions

So Megan asked me a few questions.

What romance book made you realize you wanted to keep reading in the genre?

Hmmm. Probably Highland Velvet by Jude Deveraux. I was embarrassed to have bought it, embarrassed to have liked it, but I wanted to know more about Steven's brothers. So I had to go back and buy more of hers. At least there was one author in that sea of clinch covers I could recognize.

If we ever got to meet in person, on your turf, where would you take me? Would you be as shy as I am?

I'd probably take you to the Tea Room in town. It's all decorated in reproduction hand silk-screened Victorian and Craftsman wallpaper. The owner's husband used to be mayor of the town. I'd end up complaining that there isn't any decent Indian food around, because I'd have preferred to go for Indian. We might end up on the day trip to Berkeley to see the sights there. (Look! A homeless person!) (Sorry. That was mean, but I do live in lily-white suburbia which is disturbing at times.) You want to visit the Husband's butcher store? That's fun too.

And no, I wouldn't be particularly shy in my own home town. But I promise to slap my hand over my mouth if I start babbling along out of a misplaced fear that we won't be able to think of a topic of conversation and Megan might think I'm just dim because I can't converse and Oh My God this is all MY fault and ::SLAP::

What made you decide to start blogging? How has it changed your life?

I had been posting on message boards, but I don't buy enough new releases to keep up with the conversations, and then I found Smart Bitches, and then I started reading Maili a lot. She convinced me to get my own blog. (Maili--the knitted heart IS coming, I swear. My first stab at it was about 6-8 inches across--trying to shrink it down a touch.) I'm not sure why I decided to blog--it seemed like a good experiment I guess? A way to get me writing more? (Course now I spend a lot of my "writing" time checking out blogs.)

Changed my life---em. Let's see.

OK, having thought about that for a bit, I think it's relaxed me somewhat. I have a lot of opinions, and since I'm publicly elected, I have the opportunity to spout off every few weeks, and let people know what they are. But on the other hand, I'm constantly having to frame my opinions as arguments. Which gets tiring. Sometimes it seems that I'm in a "grouundhog day" cycle at times where I'm "defending my life" over and over and over. It's almost impossible to say, "I think this is a good idea, but I'm equally impressed with that idea over there." (I'm on my fourth education reporter in 2 years for the local newspaper, which doesn't help either. Now I start laughing before they've even finished asking the question. Don't you know what I think on that issue? No? Here. Let me give you the back story AGAIN.)

So blogging allows me to put out whatever it is that's on my mind and just own it, crabbines, frustration, and all. Which, I'm sorry to say, probably does not make for an enjoyable read all the time. But it balances me.

If you could change one thing about your school system, what would it be?

I would encourage the High School to set Educational Excellence as its primary goal and standard.

I am so sick of hearing that since "not every kid is going to go to college" then we can cut upper level French. I am so sick of hearing that "student safety is our primary concern." Really? Safety? Wow, I didn't know that all those teachers with all those degrees were only there to keep the kids safe. I am so sick of hearing opinions such as, "Every child who comes out of High School needs to have completed Drivers Ed." I'm not running a driving school EITHER.

I'm not in any way trying to say that all of those things aren't good, but we do NOT focus on getting the average kid into college. It seems as if only the very tippy top tier of kids are encouraged to apply to private colleges or attend four year universities. Everyone else, from the low A average kids straight down to Cs and Ds are lumped into the "Well, not everyone goes to college" group.

And what KILLS me about this broad brushstroke style of career counseling is that we don't even offer a viable vocational program either. I don't care if you don't go to collge; lots of my relatives didn't. But you should have SOME skills when you graduate, not just woodshop. My argument: Every child should be prepared to attend college even if they choose not to start. And the ones who do not go on to college directly from High School should be prepared to immediately enter the workplace with viable career skills upon graduation.

Been saying that for three years. Getting nowhere. One of the VPs even asked for "a personal apology" after I restated that opinion/argument at a Board Meeting because I had "insulted his staff by suggesting that they couldn't teach." Huh? I'm complaining that the ADMINISTRATION, as in YOU, Mr. VP, don't place enough emphasis on providing a quality education, as provided by the teachers. This is why speaking in public is so exhausting. Blog, blog, bloggity, blog.

And what is your favorite kind of nut?


Although I do enjoy Pecans from time to time. Very unclear as to what the controversy surrounding the correct pronounciation is all about. I think that if I'm baking, I use pecans, but if I'm eating out of hand then it's cahsews.

I guess the better plan here was to just pick one nut, use one word, and go with it. Damn, the simple answers just seem to elude me.

Edited to add: DUH! It's a meme! Sign up in comments for me to post five personalized questions for you to answer.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Good Luck, Kid

Hope you're getting some rest, Barbaro. You're a good boy.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Recently rented:

The Turn of the Screw

Wish it were better, but not really willing to go rent every version to find one that works. The governess displayed her hysterical moralizing quite well, i.e., "We MUST save the children or their souls will be forever damned!" Makes her less than sympathetic to me. And the ghosts were well done. I wish the little boy Miles felt creepier--he's supposed to be a corrupting influence on the lovely Flora, but I didn't feel the threat.

Happy Accidents

Time travel with Vincent D'Onofrio (Yay!) and Marisa Tomei (Meh.) in a story line with a few plot caverns. Note to screenwriter: once you've set up this lovely relationship involving a woman who can't trust anyone, let alone a very sweet guy who insists he isn't sleeping around but instead is from 2470, you have to FOLLOW THROUGH with the idea that the guy is there to try to save her life. No plot spoilers, I swear, but if I were going to travel 500 years into the past to save someone's life, I think I'd do more than just beat up a cab driver. (Kill the dude, I swear. Save Her Life.)I might even stay with her for the WHOLE DAY of her announced death. ("Oh, don't mind me. I'll be fine all by myself." "You sure?" "Uh huh." Dummies. If it had been a book, it would have taken flight right there.) But in the end I decided I liked the movie, so go figure--I guess I have a larger capacity for forgiveness than I thought. And I love Vincent with his little hops and tics and head tilts.

City of Angels

Very nice. Andre Braugher is a believable angel--I found myself wishing that he were in the lead rather than hound-faced Nicholas Cage. Meg Ryan plays a grown-up for once, which is refressing. I genuinely liked Meg in this one--and the scenes of her talking to the Angel when she's sure he's invisibly in the room with her, watching her undress, are both spooky and sexy. I liked the concept a lot. (Angels in libraries. How European! I have a hard time seeing that come out of an American literary sensibility. Angels sitting on sculptures and lamposts. How German!) The plot was a leeetle too predictable.

Kate & Leopold

Hugh: nice. Meg: Good God, woman, is that your hair? I'm sorry, I don't usually care, but the visuals in this movie kept whacking me upside the head. Is Kate SUPPOSED to look older than Leopold? What's he wearing now? (Once he finds T-shirts, why does he go back to the silk vesty thing.)

Why would travelling through time cause Kate's dress to sprout a bustle and a train? I'm sorry, were you guys talking about something? Trying to build a relationship? Must have missed it.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Rex Harrison is hawt. Can't believe I typed that. But it's true. Course I did have a thing for Edward Mulhare as a child.

Edited to add: After some discussion in comments as to who that man is smirking from his wide mouth, I felt I had to add this. Color picture above--Edward Mulhare mimicking Rex Harrison as Captain Gregg in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir TV series. I did have a thing for him--kind of still do. But then he went onto, shudder, Knight Rider and spoiled the illusion. Black and white picture below--Rex Harrison as the original Captain Gregg in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir movie. Interesting trivia: Edward Mulhare replaced Rex in My Fair Lady stage version too. Apparently this is how they thought to cast him in the TV series of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

The biomechanics of reading.

Can someone explain why my book is upside down every time I start reading again?

This has gone on my whole reading life, and I STILL haven't figured out the biomechanics.

When I place-keep, I stick my thumb in the book, fingers and hand cupped around the spine. My hand is at the bottom of the book, fingers pointing up. I hold it while I tell the children to go get their own glass of juice, Mommy's reading. Ahem. Then, when I slide my thumb to the right and open the book, the book is strangely upside down.

Every time.


Bothers me terribly.

Unless I'm actually marking the book by first lifting my hand and cupping the book from the top--I'm not really conscious of HOW I mark the book when there's a distraction. I'm distracted, after all. But I'm really pretty almost kind of sort of sure that my wrist never leaves my lap--if I'm tucked into bed the covers don't move.

One day I'll have to get someone to first videotape me reading and then yell "Mommy!" Until then, I'm left with flipping books. (At least they get their exercise.)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Tea with the nieghbors

Sometimes, to relieve stress, I write fantasy letters to the editor. I'm so very tempted to send this one in, but at least I thought I'd share it with you.

Suisan Whatchmacallit, Mrs.
123 Windsor Drive
Mytown, US
May 15, 2006

Dear Neighbor:

I am writing to thank you for your second anonymous letter, delivered to my mailbox about a month ago. Being an admirer of Jane Austen, I must say that I am delighted to receive letters of any sort. Since I have moved into the neighborhood, I have not received correspondence from any of my neighbors, excepting you, and you have honored me with two! Since you have neglected to supply your return address, and instead have coyly remained anonymous, both in letter and in address, I find that the only way to continue our correspondence is through the papers. Perhaps one day you might see your way clear to revealing your identity.

It seems from the tone of your letters that you are quite distressed. I apologize sincerely for any part I may have played in your distress. Over the years, I have found that the best way to soothe differences is to discuss them over food, and I would like to invite you and me to do this at your earliest convenience. Please do not stand on false ceremony; I love visitors. I am at home most afternoons; that is to say, "at home" in the Georgian sense of the word, in that I am available to receive visitors at that time. Please forgive us, but we had to let James the Footman leave, with excellent references, to take care of his aged mother in Swansea. The present Hall Boy, Hobbes, is country-bred and has not risen to the rank of Footman as he cannot learn the task of simply placing the calling card on the silver salver. Instead he leaps on the furniture and announces visitors loudly, sometimes using a barking tone. He is something of a project. We do have a doorbell, nonetheless, and I would be pleased to meet you at any time should you wish to walk up my front steps and press the button. You already have the address.

In both letters you have expressed that I am, well, a disappointment to the neighborhood. For that I apologize. As homes sell, and new families move in, neighbors change. As you pointed out, I am not, unlike my former neighbor, on the back hillside every day working on the landscape. I think I supposed that the bushes were capable of growing new leaves all on their own without my oversight, but apparently I was misinformed.

The previous owner of my former house was a nonagenarian woman who was fond of hand-painting "No Parking" signs for Saturday afternoon displays, throwing peanuts out her front window, and inviting the young neighborhood children over for a sample of hard candy and an invigorating glass of champagne on Sunday afternoons. She was a fixture in that neighborhood, and when we moved in, we were not able to live up to her reputation. I do not know if this caused sorrow or distress in that neighborhood, but I do know the neighborhood changed both when we arrived and after we left. I am truly sorry that I have not been able to live up to your standards, built upon the reputation of the former owners of this house either. I could start throwing peanuts out my front window, but since my former neighborhood advised me that it would not be necessary then, I must assume that it would not suffice now.

In your most recent letter you noted the comings and goings of our exterminator along with a comment on the cleanliness of the house which demands such a visit. Really, you do take such a careful interest in the workmen! Thank you! You'll be relieved to learn that he visits every month. His name is John, and he's quite a nice fellow. Because of his services, the ant parades from the back hillside into the house have ceased.

You've also commented that not only would you like to help me find a house out of town, (although being the coy duck you are, it is hard to take you up on your offer of assistance) but also that you are planning to report me to the City. I appreciate your ongoing concern for our welfare, and would love to talk to the City on any one of a variety of topics, but admit to being unclear as to what you would like to report me for. Since it is clear that the principal hope of your continued happiness is dependent upon the state of my front yard, I would love to invite you to my house so that we may talk, over a cup of tea perhaps, about how you would like to finance this schedule of home improvements, as our bank account is currently devoted to supporting my husband's business. (We just celebrated its first anniversary—I'm sure you are as excited as we are!)

One of the things I still miss about the house formerly occupied by the peanut-tossing champagne aficionado, was the neighborhood in which it sat. Every year for over twenty years, that block has held a Fourth of July block party, complete with Bike Decorating Competitions, a Children under Ten Parade, Egg Toss and Watermelon-Seed Spitting Competitions, a day-long Volleyball Tournament, and a yearly VIP award, awarded to the neighbor who has "demonstrated the most verve." The stated purpose behind the party was to share information about Neighborhood Earthquake Preparedness; we passed out sign-up sheets and collected donations for communal First Aid Kits and Potable Water Containers. We truly enjoyed each other's company and were, according to one wit, pathologically friendly.

I see that I have somehow deeply distressed you by joining your neighborhood. That was never my intent. In the interest of mending fences (which, by the way, has hit the top of my to-do list since I followed your advice in your first letter and cut down the weeds—apparently they were holding up a section of fence), I would like to offer that if the Windsor neighborhood is interested in holding a pot-luck where we could meet, we could perhaps, start the process of Neighborhood Earthquake Preparedness and begin to be friendlier with each other.

Any other neighbors who happen along this letter and are interested in party-planning or neighborhood preparedness are also invited to visit (please ignore Hobbes if you can), to call, or to write.


Suisan W., Mrs.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


I'm finally ready to say why I've been so freakingly stressed out regarding politics recently. The flower picture worked for about a day, but I'm deep in the morass of behind closed doors goings-on again. And that makes my head hurt.

In four years we've had three Superintendents. It's not a good track record.

Current Sup has a lot of Comunity support (goes to Rotary Club a lot) but isn't qualified across the board to be the Superintendent. She's great in some areas, not so great in others. One of the areas she's not so great at, which is surprising considering her Community fanbase, is dealing with office staff and upper level administrators.

The Board is hearing all SORTS of rumors from people who have worked in the district for many years but now are looking for lower paying jobs elsewhere. (Note: it's pretty hard to FIND a lower paying job elsewhere. If they were moving up and out, then the rumors wouldn't be such a big deal. But if they take a LOWER salary, then you have to wonder why they have to leave the office with only 24 days to go before school ends.)

Well, it turns out that at least two of the complaints should have immediately sparked an internal investigation the moment they were reported to the Personnel Director. That latest one was three months ago, and the one before that happened in August. Damn. Damn. Damn. And the Board was never told. Not in memo, not in any Personnel Report at any time. So, apparently, our Personnel Director doesn't understand Employment Law nor his responsibility to the Board. Which, you know, triggers an investigation of his office too.

Okay. Moving on.

A Board member received a Transfer Report regarding the budget which she did not understand. Called the Business Office. Director of Business Services says, "I don't recognize the transfers. I didn't do them and no one on my staff did."

Board member asks about transfers in Open Session. Response from all managers above the Director of Business Services, including the Sup: "I don't know what they are. I'll have to ask the Director of Business Services."

Warning bells are ringing. (We denied the transfer request since it was unclear who generated them and what they were. Thank god someone else was paying attention to that Transfer Report. I skimmed it.)

So now legal counsel says we need a forensic audit.

Did I mention that the Director of Business Services is one of the people leaving? No? Yeah. It's very comforting.

Did I mention that we've just had an expulsion overturned (for ALL the right reasons, by the way) and that now the County wants to meet with the Expulsion panel to go over their procedures and evidentiary claims?

(We've go the Chinese system currently which says that once they've progressed up to the Expulsion Hearing then they must be guilty. We just sent back a case where a guy was brought up on charges of selling pot-laced cookies because after an athlete was banned from plaing in a game--sick and tested positive for drugs--he said he ate a cookie being sold by first kid. No expulsion on the athlete, but the cookie seller must be guilty. We have no cookies, and we have no pot. Just the say-so of the athlete. Um. No.)

So the County is preparing a forensic audit team (which means that we're not getting any bites to fill the position of the soon-to-be-vacant Business Director--word is out), the County is sending out a team to audit our Expulsion procedures, and soon we'll be starting an internal investigation in accordance with Employment Law of at least three departments.

How much TNT did you pack in that tunnel?

And did I mention that I got *another* anonymous letter threatening that I would be "reported to the City" and forced out of town unless I mowed my lawn more frequently? I SWEAR! I am not making this shit up.

I lived with this level of stress last year when we were in the process of closing a school--that was so acrimonious that it caused the Superintendent to resign, and a new one to be hired, which sparked a recall campiagn against one of the Board members, which trickled over into the animosity of the recent School Board campaign in November wherein my friend had his signs graffittied. Ultimately we scored a total victory and brought in two additional Board Members who campaigned on Open Government and renewed respect for the employees. I had thought I was done with most of this skullduggery.

But no.

It's Spring, and apparently everyone must lose their minds, their ethics, and their good sense come April.

But, all in all, it's Mother's Day. I downloaded two ebooks from Samhain, I've got the kids parked in front of piles of videos, I've made fresh coffee, and I'm disappearing into some books for a while. R-eeeeee-la-ax.

Go fight the bad guys in the morning.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Head desk. Head desk.

Well THAT was dumb.

On Thursday I had (good LORD this is getting old) a Board Meeting. For Open Session, we have a tape recorder and a secretary. When we go into Closed Session, we tape the meeting, but there's no one taking notes, nor do we prepare minutes. Closed Session discussions are confidential, and so, therefore are the tapes. They only exist for the people who took part in the conversation to have record to go back to if there's a dispute about what direction was given, or who said what. (It happens. And, yeah, the tapes could be subpoenaed, but it's not important for the purposes of this goof.)

Last Thursday the regular secretary wasn't able to attend, and the acting secretary wasn't familiar with the procedure for handling the tapes. At the close of Open Session, we troop into a back office, set up the tape machine and start talking. I'm in charge of flipping the tapes; it's where I sit.

At the close of the meeting, I talk to secretary, who doesn't know where to put the tapes. So we lock the office, and the next morning, I call the regular secretary.

There are Open Session and Closed Session sections on the tapes, she doesn't know which is which, and she can't listen to them. I went to the office, took the tapes, bought myself a minicassette dictation machine, and went to my kids' tutor this morning. I figured I would note the index marker where Open Session ended and Closed Session began, and, if possible, retape the Open Session (using the second tape recorder I bought) onto a separate tape so that the secretary could prepare the Open Session minutes.

Sitting in the waiting room, flipping tapes and listening to excerpts, the horror begins to wash over me in a blue-grey wave.

I was in charge of the tapes, I flipped them, and I taped over Open Session. We need MINUTES for that meeting. We have all of Closed Session--great. But the 45 minutes of testimony before we retired into Closed Session? Gone.

I thought I was starting on a new tape--since the old secretary always provides a fresh set of tapes for Closed Session. But when I flipped the tape? Recorded over old stuff. Damn. Boneheaded move.


My heart rate has returned to normal. The fill-in secretary, I remembered, took notes in shorthand, which our current secretary doesn't know. The fill-in secretary actually used to prepare the minutes, and she didn't rely on the tapes too much when she did minutes--so I think we can get the info out there. But I still feel like an idiot.

Think I have to write up a protocol for handling the tapes, and I KNOW I'm bringing my OWN minicassettes from now on. That way they're guaranteed fresh. (Does cause me to wonder if the balance of the Closed Session tapes are complete. Hmmm.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A New Morning

I am bound and determined to get myself out of this crabby funk.

Yes, politics have been really annoying recently, and the house is making me nuts, but I'm determined to be jollier today.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I apparently need an umbrella drink

OK, at some point I'm getting off the train of gloom and doom, because the last few posts have been very whiney.

But, you know, I'm really in a cycle here which I think demands a large drink in an unidentifiable tropical fruit sporting a paper umbrella.

I spent all day negotiating with the teacher's union--again.

Before our pay raise was accepted, we were treated to a long tirade from one of the members, who would not be silenced, about how disrespectful the Board was being to the teachers by offering the pay raise as part of a package. They actually demanded that we :blink blink: LOWER our offer since they did not want to be subjected to the indignity of a package. He also mentioned that he was leaving negotiations so that he could go out "and tell everyone" he knows about how shabbily the Board was treating the teachers. He actually left negotiations.

Since he doesn't live in town, I'm not sure who he's talking to tonight, but I hope he's having a jolly time.

So to recap--we offered a pay raise, along with additional monies tied to contract language which would do away with a time card system (WHICH THE TEACHERS HATE!). They demanded that we take the language out of the package (along with the money tied to it) and then proceeded to berate us for not offering them enough money.

By the end of the day, they accepted the offer, but only verbally. Sometime in June, they might see fit to sign a Tentative Agreement for both sides to ratify.

Why am I doing this again?

I don't even know.

I have a Closed Session special Meeting on Thursday (which, since it's closed, the contents thereof are confidential. But because it's a "Special Meeting" rumors are flying as to what we are going to be discussing. Oh Joy). That's good for at least two hours, maybe four. I have a regular meeting next Thursday from about 6 pm until at least 12 am. And I still have to deal with kids, school projects (Friday is Colonial Day. Bring your children to school dressed like Colonists. Yippee!), tutoring, mold, home improvements, business concerns, and, hello. What's my name? Who am I? What AM I doing here?

Off to raid the liquor cabinet and go to bed. Bad habit, that.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Home ownership

What is it about owning a home which demands that you pour money down the drain? (Adult voice: You are increasing your home's value. Child voice: But I want candy!) Why does this still bother me? Why do I feel like I can't afford my own life--which simultaneously makes me feel about twelve years old? Mommy? Can I have some allowance?

We bought the house for a lesser price than its neighbor because the condition was not pristine. We replaced wall-to-wall and painted before we moved in, but did not tackle the Master Bath project. (The tub was known to leak--we've never used it--and the shower enclosure has cracks in the glass. Also, this room has, gah, wall-to-wall in it. I HATE wall-to-wall in a bathroom.) So, we bought the house knowing we needed to do work, and some of it we still haven't done.

Three years later, now we REALLY need to do the work, Husband's got his own business which decreases our available cash, and I'm stressing over the house's condition.

A few weeks ago, the patio door cracked after being introduced to a flying rock. This morning I noticed a suspicious stain on the Living Room ceiling, touched it, discovered it was wet, and realized that the kids' bath (or shower) is leaking. On top of those, the Master Bath is reacting to the suddenly warmer weather by sprouting (ew!!) mold. Damn. Mold.

This totally sucks.

I really, really do not want to deal with this. And I recognize my own tendency to try to ignore a problem, to rely upon "magical thinking" whenever possible. "If I studiously ignore the problem, then someone else will come along to fix it, or it will magically resolve itself. For free."

Maybe I need to get a job in the Bush administration studying Iraqi reconstruction; I seem to have the requisite skill set.

Friday, May 05, 2006

My head... head, Oh, my aching head.

Meeting from 6 pm last night until 12 fucking thirty.

NOT a happy camper this morning. (Up at 6 am to get my adorable children, all sleep-tumbled and droopy, off to school complete with a fresh-faced attitude and a belly full of nutritious breakfast. Ugh.)

Had to sit through a report detailing a program which I fundamentally DO NOT agree with. And it has such widespread community involvement, that it's fairly ridiculous to start tilting at windmills to remove it from the High School. It's an anti-drunk-driving campaign, which on the face of it seems like an appropriate thing.

Except, it simulates the deaths of High School students by setting aside one day a year where student volunteers are pulled out of class (at 15 minute intervals) and then return to class wearing white face to show that they have died. A car crash is staged on the football field, the fire and rescue comes to pry the High School actors out of the car, one is heli-vacced to a hospital. For every child that dies throughout the day, the parents are notified at work. The child who was driving the car on the football field is "arrested" and spends the day in jail. His parents are notified.

The children go on an overnight retreat where they pledge not to drink and drive. They write a letter to their parents, saying goodbye from beyond the grave. Meanwhile the parents meet with "members of our faith community" to draft obituaries for their students.

The next morning there is an all-school assembly where the parents read the obits and then are reunited with their child. The volunteers share their experiences from the overnight retreat.

My issues:

Too dramatic. We already have cutters at the school. I'm waiting for the Tom Sawyer, I'm attending my own funeral and now I know how much everyone will miss me when I'm gone, part of this to kick in for a suicidal teen. It seems to glamorize death and gore.

A waste of educational time. Not much more I can add to this

A mis-direction of focus. The families who participate have already signed on as volunteers. These kids are the Student Body Presidents, the Cheerleaders, the Club Presidents. I don't think the disaffected kids who are spending the majority of their time hating school, hating life, are going to give two hoots about how emotionally heart-rending the experience was for a cheerleader. I know I wouldn't have cared when I was in school.

A mis-direction of resources. Fire Dept, Police, Faith community, City Staff, School Staff, Local Hospitals, the Heli-vac company all adore this program. A video is produced every year detailing the crash and the "impact" the program has had on the school. I'd much rather get those guys to help us get a real drug counseling program in the school, led by recovering addicts, which allows the kids to explore *why* they are self-medicating. But it's not flashy, sitting around in a room, is it.

Insertion of school into family dynamics. Sometimes this is appropriate--especially with High School-aged, almost adult students. HOWEVER. The overnight retreat deeply bothers me. Student's cell phones are confiscated, since they are dead and unable to communicate with the outside world. They are chaperoned and not allowed to use hotel phones. Then they are encouraged to talk about death and about drug use. Every year one of the parent volunteers talks about how resistant the students were to the process, but after "hours of discussion" the students suddenly became much more emotional and open. At this point they write their letters from beyond the grave to the parents. I've been in "Group-Think" situations like this before. Makes my skin crawl. If I question this, the response I get is, "The kids volunteered to take part."

The whole thing makes me nuts. And I squirm every year I hear a report about it. I should stand up and fight against it, demonstrate how harmful it is. But I'm definitely not representative of the community on this one. People lap it up.

Link: Every 15 Mintues program

Edited to add: There's very little evidence that _any_ of the popular programs work to stop drug use. This is the best study relative to "Project DARE." But hard evidence does not sway either the police or the school administration to stop a program. Believe me on this. It takes a full-scale community uprising to drag these programs out once they're installed.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Political Commitments

I've been whining a lot this week.

Tonight I have, yes, I know, I say this All The Time, another Board meeting. And I really don't want to go. I'm so imagining what I would do with myself If I played Hooky. Maybe the flu is coming on.

Here's an extra inducement. The meetings are on local cable, so I have this extra fantasy of staying home with my feet up, nursing a cold Porter, and heckling those poor fools who are forced to sit up there, hour after hour, and discuss the lates t budget transfer in exruciating detail.

But then there's a Closed Session at which I'm supposed to report on Negotiations, and we have staff evaluations to consider as well, which I'd like to take part in. Closed Session starts the meeting. It would be weird to go to that and then just disappear after potty break. And there's a curriculum report on High School Math which I'd like to hear. Apparently there was a coup in the High School Math department, and they voted out the New Math-like funky curriculum and voted in Traditional Math (Yay!). Also, the teachers are laying the credit for the change at my door--wholly underservedly, I need to add. I had nothing to do with this shift--although I agree with the change wholeheartedly. But I'm getting handshakes in the coffe shop for engineering and supporting the shift. Eh, Yeah. Um, no false modesty here, but it weren't me. But I should be there for the report nonetheless.

Unless NOT going demonstrates that I didn't support the shift. But I do. See, this is where politics can make you crazy.

Is it just May that makes me want to stay home?

I just can't get the Oooomph up to do much of anything or get excited about much.

But then when I look back over things I've done recently, I realize that I've done quite a bit, and was happy to do it. (Well, getting the stain out of the shirt was neither exciting nor uplifting, but it was somewhat important.) Husband just celebrated one year in business with an event over the weekend--lots of balloons and free samples. My mother visited for three days. And as of this morning, I just came back from a ribbon cutting ceremony at Husband's business, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor. I did that whole negotiation thing last week. I've taken my kids to lots of tutoring sessions (1/2 hour drive each way). Start totalling those up, and I begin to see why I'm feeling kind of, "Meh. Whatever." about tonight's meeting.


Watched Kate & Leopold last night. The costumes were soooo distracting. Leopold, from 1876 New York was wearing some puffy collared waistcoat under a blue morning coat with GOLD EMBROIDERY all around the sholders. This was paired with biscuit colored pants and riding boots. BOOTS? At a Ball? Riding boots? Why is everyone else wearing black evening dress and Leopold's looking like he just knocked over a notions store?

Then Kate wears a business suit over a buttoned leather vest? No Shirt? Ouchie. Hot, stiff, chafing, and uncomfortable!

Then something looked oddly familiar about it all. (Talk about being distracted right out of the story. I'm looking at shoes, buttons, and the cut of the clothes at the back waistline by this point). At the end of the movie, go back to opening credits. Yep. The costume designer for Kate & Leopold designed the oddish costumes for the Circus I worked at. That's nutty. I didn't even know she *had* a style, and I surely wasn't expecting that I would *recognize* it. Still shaking my head over it.

Maybe it was because she put Leopold in a Ringmaster's costume? Boots and long tails? All he needed was a top hat, a whip, and a different colored jacket.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

When I don't have time to write something truly inspirational or pithy, I find it's best to default to a silly horse picture.

This one of Twickennham CF, a young stallion, was sent to me with the caption, "Boo!"

Monday, May 01, 2006

Smart Bitches Day

OK, so for Smart Bitches Day, as proposed by the lovely Beth, you're supposed to write about something that gets you crazy in Romancelandia. No holds barred, full on bitch-kitty ranting.

Sounds like fun, except that today I can't quite figure out what makes me tear-my-hair-out-nuts. Instead here's a list of minor annoyances.

Sex is squishy and messy. I don't really want to hear about bodily functions all that much, but, ummmmm, yeah. Sex outdoors--no grass stains for the servants to raise an eyebrow at? Sloppy seconds and thirds, and then lots of sitting in the Great Hall/Morning Room and no stains? (But that virgin blood on the sheets demands an extreme close-up.)

Are there no colors other than jewel tones? Amber eyes, etc. (What color amber? Because it comes in about seven shades of yellow to orange to red.) (Oddly personal aside here: In college I was supposed to write a composition in French wherein I described something. The unit focused on color vocabulary. So I opened my thesaurus and listed every blessed color I could. Then I opened my French/English dictionary and wrote down the translations for as many words as I could find. Five paragraphs done in twenty minutes--mostly just listing colors. The professor practically wet herself, she was so pleased with my essay. Ummmm. It's a list of words. But, OK, sure, give me an A. I won't complain.)

Long travels over land where the coach horses are rested or switched, but the horse the hero rides, so as to avoid being cooped up with Little Miss and her obnoxious chaperone, but which enables him to have conversations with Little Miss through the window, apparently never tires.

Duke, Duke, Duke. Duke of Earl, Earl, Earl. Marquess? Baronet? (Sir Percy Blakeney was a Baronet. What's good enough for the Scarlet Pimpernel is good enough for any poor sod named Damien. Or Lucien.)

Braies, Chausses, Hauberk, etc. I always have to look these up. Personal memory problem--especially since I have decided not to read Contemporaries. Every time a Medieval hero touches his clothing I have to struggle to figure out whether he's removing his shirt or his pants. Slightly distracting.

That seems to be all I've got stored up today. Pity--seems like there should be more.

Well, the sun is finally shining, so maybe I'm just not in a Bitchy mood. (But soon the coffee will run low, and then, who can tell?)

Happy May Day!! (Take a minute today, if you will, to consider what immigration law will do to the restaurant, construction, and janitorial industries. Butcher Husband has two distributors who are not even delivering today, since they're pretty sure there won't be enough cutters on-site at meat plants today to fill orders.)